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5 ways to lay a subway tile

Updated: Jan 10, 2023

It is really no surprise that subway tiles are such a popular option when it comes to both bathrooms and kitchens. They are incredibly versatile and come in a huge range of sizes, colours and finishes. One of the fun things about subways is that you can lay them in different ways to create completely different looks. So if you are considering subway tiles for your home, here are 5 ways to lay them that you need to consider:

1 | Brick-bond

This is definitely the most popular way to lay subway tiles, where the tile below starts at the centre of the tile above. It is very a timeless look, which works well with all styles from classic, to industrial and contemporary.

laundry white modern minimal Caesarstone reconstituted stone benchtop, 2pac Dulux cabinetry joinery, stone splashback, black tapware, black sink, white brickbond tile splashback
Laundry at our Brighton East project

2 | Straight stacked

Straight stacked subways have also become very popular in recent years. As the name suggests, this is a very straight forward way of laying tiles, with the tiles stacked directly above each other. I love this look for contemporary interiors, and the simple linear layout can help to make smaller spaces appear larger!

bathroom design, modern minimal, green feature subway tiles, grey subway tiles, stacked, Caesarstone benchtop, custom vanity joinery cabinetry, timber Polytec Prime Oak, Nood Co concrete basin, ABI Interiors gunmetal tapware, wall lights
Eltham Ensuite

3 | Herringbone

Herringbone is one of my favourite ways to lay subways, where the tiles fit together at 90 degrees to each other, creating a pattern similar to chevron. Herringbone works best for more classic or tradition interiors, but can work in some contemporary settings too. You can also double up on the tiles on each side, creating a fun double herringbone pattern instead.

bathroom render design, Polytec Tasmanian Oak vanity custom cabinetry joinery, grey wall floor tiles, white herringbone subway tile feature, chrome tapware
Render of our Brighton bathroom

4 | Cross hatch

Cross hatch or basket weave is a fun pattern where sets of 2, 3 or 4 subways are cross hatched to form a sort of checkerboard pattern. The size of the tile will determine how many you need in a set so you can play with the pattern and proportion to suit your space.

kitchen render design, Polytec Tasmanian Oak custom cabinetry joinery, white benchtop Quantum Quartz, white tiled splasback, brushed nickel tapware
Render of our Collingwood kitchen

5 | 1/3 Off-set

The 1/3 off-set is very similar to brickbond, but the tile below starts at 1/3 of the way of the top tile instead of in the centre. This is a great alternative to brickbond, and works really well for longer tiles.

Bonus tips:

  • Direction: all of the patterns I mentioned can be laid horizontally, vertically and diagonally so you can play around to see what suits your space best!

  • Proportion: make sure that the size of your tile and the scale of your pattern suits the area that you want to tile. For example, don't select a large subway for herringbone to tile a small vanity splashback as you won't get the effect of the pattern!

  • Grout colours: it's important to decide if you want the pattern to be really bold or more subtle. If your tiles are uniform and one colour, you can use contrasting grout to make a statement or matching grout to have a more subtle appearance. If your tile has a lot of variation or texture, it is usually best to go with a matching grout and let the tile speak for itself!

I hope these ideas and tips have been helpful! If you want to find out more about selecting the right finishes for your project, get in contact with us below:

Have a wonderful week!

Nina xx

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